Gender or sex? These terms are up for discussion. What defines a person, it’s certainly not a colour, right?
Last week we not only had an input on feminism and the importance it has in our society but we attended a workshop that got us questioning the very idea that we have adopted subconsciously. Are you blue or are you pink? Gender mania is here and it’s not going anywhere, in fact it’s growing and it’s going places. Not only do we as a society accept gender roles but we force them upon the people who absorb everything at a terrifying but impressive rate. Yep, you guessed it, children. As a child, you wouldn’t have caught me dead in a dress. Pretty bows in my hair? Forget about it. The common topic up for argument between my mum and dad was always “Why does she dress like a little boy?” However, what defines a boy or girl by the way they dress?
Should a child have to dress a certain way based on their sex? If a little girl feels more comfortable in jeans and t-shirts, why should she be forced out of that comfort zone just to make her look ‘girly’? Similarly, if your son wants to dress up as a princess rather than a cowboy this Halloween, why should he be denied that choice? They don’t see any issues, it’s you that has the fear of what others will think. Gender is taught. It is a social construct. No one is born aware of their sex. As a child, you don’t care, you just want to be comfortable and happy. If you like it, you want it, it doesn’t matter if it’s made for a boy or girl. I can’t stress this enough: you should never force ideologies on a child simply because you believe in them. Parents don’t understand the window that they close from the moment they define their child by the toys they place in their bedroom and the clothes in their closet.
I’ve seen the struggle first hand; being born the sex you don’t identify with and being forced to live with it to make others feel ‘comfortable’. Two years ago, someone that I never want to lose entered my life. He is wonderful and he is strong but he was in fact not born a ‘he’. When I first met him, I didn’t try to guess what was happening with his identity, I just assumed that he was male. It wasn’t until the night he ‘came out’ to me that I knew for sure he was transgender. I remember it so vividly, you could see it had been something on his mind for a long time. The agitation and nerves were apparent. His voice was cracking. I thought he was going to tell me that he was in trouble and needed help. However, he hesitantly explained to me that he ‘was a girl? but wasn’t really a girl’ and he wanted me to know this. The anticipation was evident in his face as he waited for a reply.
“Yeah? I didn’t think you were a girl if I’m honest.”
I felt the atmosphere relax and his shoulders drop with relief. Since then, I can’t lie when I say this but I have felt extremely protective of him. I used to snap harshly and correct everyone when they used incorrect pronouns. I knew it wasn’t my place but I couldn’t understand why so many found it difficult to relate him with the pronouns he wished to be identified with. I see him every so often and when I do I can’t believe his progress, he’s happier in his body, not always but more than what he was and, although he has not yet ‘come out’ to his parents, I can understand why. Up to this point, they have raised a daughter and he allows them to maintain this illusion. He wants his parents to feel comfortable even when he is not. I know in time he will tell them but he’s trying to find the right moment… even though we both know there will never be ‘the right moment’. I have seen through him that being transgender is a struggle and isn’t a choice. He had been tormenting himself for years, before realising what he was feeling was real. That being born in the wrong body is real and, yet to this day, he is willing to make himself unhappy for a short period of time so that his loved ones remain unaware of his true self.
Gender is socially constructed and this should not be carried into our classrooms. I know it’s easier said than done but it shouldn’t be. Hopefully, one day I will be in a classroom environment, standing in front of a sea of wide eyes waiting for me to speak. I need to choose my words carefully, I need to make sure that I only bring positivity into our safe space…
You are not blue or pink, you are the rainbow.